Robert Michels

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Robert Michels

Robert Michels (German: [ˈmɪçəls] ; 9 January 1876, Cologne, Germany – 3 May 1936, Rome, Italy) was a German-born Italian sociologist who contributed to elite theory by describing the political behavior of intellectual elites. He belonged to the Italian school of elitism. [1] [2] He is best known for his book Political Parties , published in 1911, which contains a description of the "iron law of oligarchy." He was a friend and disciple of Max Weber, Werner Sombart and Achille Loria. Politically, he moved from the Social Democratic Party of Germany to the Italian Socialist Party, adhering to the Italian revolutionary syndicalist wing and later to Italian Fascism, which he saw as a more democratic form of socialism. His ideas provided the basis of moderation theory which delineates the processes through which radical political groups are incorporated into the existing political system.

Cologne city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Cologne is the largest city of Germany's most populous federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the fourth most populous city in Germany after Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich. With slightly over a million inhabitants within its urban area, Cologne is the largest city on the Rhine and also the most populous city both of the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region, which is Germany's largest and one of Europe's major metropolitan areas, and of the Rhineland. Centred on the left bank of the Rhine, Cologne is about 45 kilometres (28 mi) southeast of North Rhine-Westphalia's capital of Düsseldorf and 25 kilometres (16 mi) northwest of Bonn. It is the largest city in the Central Franconian and Ripuarian dialect areas.

Rome Capital city and comune in Italy

Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

Kingdom of Italy kingdom on the Appenine Peninsula between 1861 and 1946

The Kingdom of Italy was a state which existed from 1861—when King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia was proclaimed King of Italy—until 1946—when civil discontent led an institutional referendum to abandon the monarchy and form the modern Italian Republic. The state was founded as a result of the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which can be considered its legal predecessor state.

Contents

Biography

Michels born to a wealthy German family, studied in England, Paris (at the Sorbonne), and at universities in Munich, Leipzig (1897), Halle (1898), and Turin. He became a Socialist while teaching at the University of Marburg and became active in the Social Democratic Party of Germany for whom he was an unsuccessful candidate in the 1903 German federal election. In Italy, he associated with Italian revolutionary syndicalism, a leftist branch of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI). He left both parties in 1907. [3]

Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe, who share a common German ancestry, culture and history. German is the shared mother tongue of a substantial majority of ethnic Germans.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

Paris Capital and most populous city of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, as well as the arts. The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €709 billion in 2017. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, and ahead of Zurich, Hong Kong, Oslo and Geneva. Another source ranked Paris as most expensive, on a par with Singapore and Hong Kong, in 2018. The city is a major railway, highway, and air-transport hub served by two international airports: Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly. Opened in 1900, the city's subway system, the Paris Métro, serves 5.23 million passengers daily, and is the second busiest metro system in Europe after Moscow Metro. Gare du Nord is the 24th busiest railway station in the world, but the first located outside Japan, with 262 million passengers in 2015.

He achieved international recognition for his historical and sociological study, Zur Soziologie des Parteiwesens in der modernen Demokratie. Untersuchungen über die oligarchischen Tendenzen des Gruppenlebens, which was published in 1911; its title in English is Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy . In it, he presented his "Iron law of oligarchy" theory that political parties, including those considered socialist, cannot be democratic because they quickly transform themselves into bureaucratic oligarchies.

Iron law of oligarchy political theory, claims that all complex organisations (regardless of how democratic they started) will become oligarchies

The iron law of oligarchy is a political theory, first developed by the German sociologist Robert Michels in his 1911 book, Political Parties. It asserts that rule by an elite, or oligarchy, is inevitable as an "iron law" within any democratic organization as part of the "tactical and technical necessities" of organization.

Michels was considered a brilliant pupil of Max Weber, who began publishing his writings in the Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik in 1906 [4] and appointed him as co-editor in 1913, but they disagreed over Michels' opposition to World War I. [3]

Max Weber German sociologist, philosopher, and political economist

Maximilian Karl Emil Weber was a German sociologist, philosopher, jurist, and political economist. His ideas profoundly influenced social theory and social research. Weber is often cited, with Émile Durkheim and Karl Marx, as among the three founders of sociology. Weber was a key proponent of methodological anti-positivism, arguing for the study of social action through interpretive means, based on understanding the purpose and meaning that individuals attach to their own actions. Unlike Durkheim, he did not believe in mono-causality and rather proposed that for any outcome there can be multiple causes.

The Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik was an academic journal for the social sciences in Germany between 1888 and 1933. Its first editors were Edgar Jaffé, Werner Sombart, and Max Weber. The latter published his seminal essay The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism in the journal in two parts in 1904 and 1905.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the resulting 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Michels criticized what he perceived to be Karl Marx's materialistic determinism. Michels borrowed from Werner Sombart's historical methods. Because Michels admired Italian culture and was prominent in the social sciences, he was brought to the attention of Luigi Einaudi and Achille Loria. They succeeded in procuring for Michels a professorship at the University of Turin, where he taught economics, political science and socioeconomics until 1914. He then became professor of economics at the University of Basel, Switzerland, a post he held until 1928. [5]

Karl Marx Revolutionary socialist

Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist and socialist revolutionary.

Determinism is the philosophical belief that all events are determined completely by previously existing causes. Deterministic theories throughout the history of philosophy have sprung from diverse and sometimes overlapping motives and considerations. The opposite of determinism is some kind of indeterminism. Determinism is often contrasted with free will.

Werner Sombart German economist, sociologist, historian

Werner Sombart was a German economist and sociologist, the head of the “Youngest Historical School” and one of the leading Continental European social scientists during the first quarter of the 20th century.

In 1924 he joined the Fascist Party, led by Benito Mussolini, former director of the Italian Socialist Party's newspaper "Avanti!". Michels was convinced that the direct link between Benito Mussolini's charisma and the working class was in some way the best means to realize a real lower social class government without political bureaucratic mediation. In 1928, he became professor of economics and the history of doctrines at the University of Perugia [5] and occasionally lectured in Rome where he died on May 3, 1936.

Benito Mussolini Duce and President of the Council of Ministers of Italy. Leader of the National Fascist Party and subsequent Republican Fascist Party

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy from his golpe in 1922 to 1943, and Duce of Fascism from 1919 to his execution in 1945 during the Italian civil war. As dictator of Italy and founder of fascism, Mussolini inspired several totalitarian rulers such as Adolf Hitler.

Avanti! is an Italian daily newspaper, born as the official voice of the Italian Socialist Party, published since 25 December 1896. It took its name from its German counterpart Vorwärts, the party-newspaper of the Social Democratic Party of Germany.

Charisma is compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.

Writings

Title page of Political Parties by Robert Michels.jpg

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References

  1. Robert A. Nye, The Anti-Democratic Sources of Elite Theory: Pareto, Mosca, Michels, Sage, 1977, p. 30.
  2. J. J. Chambliss (ed.), Philosophy of Education: An Encyclopedia, Routledge, 2013, p. 179.
  3. 1 2 Cook, Philip (August 1971). "Robert Michels's Political Parties in Perspective". Journal of Politics. 33 (3): 777–778. JSTOR   2128281.
  4. Scaff, Lawrence (May 1981). "Max Weber and Robert Michels". American Journal of Sociology. 86 (6): 1269–1286. doi:10.1086/227385. JSTOR   2778815.
  5. 1 2 "Michels, Robert 1876-1936". Contemporary Authors   via  HighBeam Research (subscription required). January 2004. Archived from the original on 2015-03-29. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  6. Speech by Robert Michels at international syndicalist conference (Paris, 3 April 1907). Analysis of the situation of the Left in Germany. Online here (Archive.org)
  7. German word Arbeitsverfassung from Arbeitsverfassung-Gesetz, which means: Federal law on labour relations